My race prep starts on the night prior to a race, with a “good” dinner and selection of my race clothing and post race apparel. The night before NB I ate a pile of Trader Joe’s wheat/gluten free pancakes slathered in peanut butter and pure maple syrup. This has quickly become my race day eve tradition, it fills me up, without making me uncomfortable. For pre-race fueling I ate a bagel and two fried eggs 2.5 hrs prior to race start and 20 min. before, one packet of Watermelon Sport Beans, chased down with coconut water. For the race outfit I chose to wear both a long sleeve shirt and my singlet, due to the predicted felt temperature of 20 degrees with winds off the ocean at times, I also wore North Face thermal tights under my splits. I could have probably gone without tights or donned some sleeves instead of the long sleeve tech shirt, but I wasn’t too hot for most of the race and as a bonus, didn’t have to sprint to the parking garage for warmer clothing immediately post race. I wore some light gloves for the entire race, but ditched my EMS winter hat at mile 5; wish I had left it in the car rather than ditching it, but at least winter is nearly over.
It took some jostling in between God Bless America and The Star Spangled Banner to make my way far enough up in the corral to not be hampered by slower paced runners, but with 30 seconds to go, I found myself in the top 80 or so and ready to run. This was a unique feeling that hopefully gives me some appreciation for how Boston will feel, with so many faster runners. New Bedford is recognized nationwide as having one of the fastest and deepest fields of competitive runners. When the air horn was sounded I took off at a which felt relaxed, but per usual, was too fast. After clocking in a 5:30 for the first mile I slowly worked myself towards my goal pace and hit mile two right on the dot of 5:49. Mile three was the first and for me, the worst, of the hills in the race. I managed a 5:56, but felt like I was already beginning to work a bit too hard for it and some doubts crept in. Mile four was much better, I focused on running relaxed and after some early hills I was back under goal pace by the end, mile split was still a bit slow from the hills at 5:53, but I felt good. I had dropped my pace down to the 5:40 range mid way to the 5 mile mark and along a sunny straight away, my friend and teammate, Bash drew alongside me. Once he was there and our pace was in sync we began working together. Despite exchanging some conversation and catching up for the next few miles, we still worked to put down our fastest splits of the race. Miles 5, 6 and 7 all were hit on the 5:40 mark, mile 8 had some downhill and we clocked off a 5:33 before moving back to a 5:41 for mile 9. The next few miles had some serious headwind, right along the ocean and we worked together, taking turns breaking the wind every so often, along with another guy we had caught up to. The splits for 10, 11 and 12 were; 5:50, 5:54 and 5:53. The final mile of the race has one very long uphill section, starting just before the 12 mile sign and going until 12.5 or so, there is no immediate downhill, either. You proceed along a slightly uphill portion until 12.7-ish, when you turn sharply right and start to let out everything you have on the final downhill. Bash and I had worked together really well, even catching another Greater Lowell Road Runner teammate at the beginning of the final hill, but by the top of the hill he had dropped me by fifteen meters or so. I used the advantage of longer legs and started to bridge the gap on the short downhill, but still had a bit to go when I turned for the final flat tenth to the finish. Somehow in the process of slowly grinding up the long hill I had saved a final gear and went into a full sprint down the straight, churning past Bash with the finish line close in sight. I knew there was no way I would have finished an entire minute below my goal time had it not been for working together most of the race, so I felt a bit bad passing Bash at the end. But we concluded that teammates work together until the finish is in sight, and then it just becomes a race against the clock and everyone else. My final mile split was 5:54 and the final tenth was at 4:00 pace, giving me a 5:45’54 avg. over the 1:15:30 net time, gun time was 1:15:34. The club had some seriously fast guys in front with a 1:10 and a 1:13 finisher, but the other three of us rounded out the top 5 with 1:15’s, all finishing within 10 seconds of each other. The entire race was fantastic, the town of New Bedford really embraces the event and comes out to cheer in force, even in the sub freezing temps! I could probably go on enumerating the experience for a while longer, but I think that fairly well recaps the actual race. It felt like a certain validation of the hard work I’ve been putting in since the beginning of last December and it gives me tons of confidence for the marathon. It was exactly what I wanted out of a training race and a great way to experience my first USATF New England Gran Prix Series race running for Greater Lowell. We unofficially finished in 7th place in the team category, with some very fast runners ahead of us. I was pleased that Western Mass Distance Project repeated for the team title though, as I love seeing the BAA get beat.
The marathon is getting very close and I am behind on my fundraising for World Vision. Please, please consider donating to a worthy cause! I’ll do all of the running and sweating and freezing, but I really need your help with the fundraising! I’m not very good at pleading for donations or raising money, but this cause truly speaks for itself and I appreciate every dollar given, the work being done in Africa is so badly needed!
Link provided below to read more and donate: